Read the full article by Jade Boyd (Rice News)
“HOUSTON – (July 25, 2022) – Rice University chemical engineers have improved their design for a light-powered catalyst that rapidly breaks down PFOA, one of the world’s most problematic ‘forever chemical’ pollutants.
Michael Wong and his students made the surprising discovery in 2020 that boron nitride, a commercially available powder that’s commonly used in cosmetics, could destroy 99% of PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, in water samples within just a few hours when it was exposed to ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 254 nanometers.
‘That was great because PFOA is an increasingly problematic pollutant that’s really hard to destroy,’ said Wong, corresponding author of a study about the redesigned catalyst in Chemical Engineering Journal. ‘But it was also less than ideal because the boron nitride was activated by short-wave UV, and the atmosphere filters out almost all of the short-wave UV from sunlight. We wanted to push as much as possible boron nitride’s ability to access energy from other wavelengths of sunlight.'”…